Sunday, December 04, 2011

Republic of the Philippines vs. Angelo B. Malabanan, et al., G.R. No. 169067, October 6, 2010

Appeal; modes of appeal from decisions of regional trial court. In Murillo v. Consul, we had the opportunity to clarify the three (3) modes of appeal from decisions of the RTC, to wit: (1) by ordinary appeal or appeal by writ of error under Rule 41, where judgment was rendered in a civil or criminal action by the RTC in the exercise of original jurisdiction; (2) by petition for review under Rule 42, where judgment was rendered by the RTC in the exercise of appellate jurisdiction; and (3) by petition for review on certiorari to the Supreme Court under Rule 45. The first mode of appeal is taken to the CA on questions of fact or mixed questions of fact and law. The second mode of appeal is brought to the CA on questions of fact, of law, or mixed questions of fact and law. The third mode of appeal is elevated to the Supreme Court only on questions of law. 

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Here, petitioner’s appeal does not only involve a question of law. Aside from the trial court’s ruling that it has no jurisdiction over the complaint, petitioner likewise questioned the other basis for the trial court’s ruling, which refers to previously decided cases allegedly upholding with finality the ownership of the Malabanans over the disputed property. As correctly argued by petitioner, the question of whether the ownership of the Malabanans has in fact been sustained with finality is factual in nature as it requires the presentation of evidence. Since the appeal raised mixed questions of fact and law, no error can be imputed on petitioner for invoking the appellate jurisdiction of the CA through an ordinary appeal under Rule 41. 

Question of law distinguished from question of fact. And in Leoncio v. De Vera, this Court has differentiated a question of law from a question of fact. A question of law arises when there is doubt as to what the law is on a certain state of facts, while there is a question of fact when the doubt arises as to the truth or falsity of the alleged facts. For a question to be one of law, the same must not involve an examination of the probative value of the evidence presented by the litigants or any of them. The resolution of the issue must rest solely on what the law provides on the given set of circumstances. Once it is clear that the issue invites a review of the evidence presented, the question posed is one of fact. Thus, the test of whether a question is one of law or of fact is not the appellation given to such question by the party raising the same; rather, it is whether the appellate court can determine the issue raised without reviewing or evaluating the evidence, in which case, it is a question of law; otherwise it is a question of fact. Republic of the Philippines vs. Angelo B. Malabanan, et al., G.R. No. 169067, October 6, 2010

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